The Tango Cure

I hate it when there is something on my mind, something I really need to convey - but I can't get at it for some reason. The idea is too tangled in other things.

I had another 3 nights in a row of tango. How I love the weekend. A weekend of music and friends and the comfort of connection. Yet, just as I get back into the tango groove, I'm facing another work week. A coworker asked me a few weeks ago, why I dance tango - why tango in particular. I was exhausted and stressed, so I answered only half thinking, "to feel human". My answer was met with a knowing nod. To be treated like a human being. To be allowed to treat other people as human beings.

A little context . . .

Last week's university newspaper finally confirmed what most of us on campus already knew - even more cuts are coming. With that another round of "please write down how you spend your work day. How much time do you allot for each task you are required to do? Would you say that your department is efficient in meeting it's objectives?" Another round of 'justify your job' informal assessments. I think this makes the 3rd or 4th round of such requests for reports this year. Every round is slightly more menacing and patronizing than the last. We are already "lay-off refugees" taking on more work as there are fewer and fewer of us to do it. Each round of layoffs/re-orgs/consolidations gets justified with, 'see, if we can do the work with so few people, we were obviously over-staffed. There was fat to be cut.' Never mind that, as Tom Waits put it, we're smoking our people to the filter.
We're doing our work in ever increasing isolation from each other. Empty chairs, empty desks, empty rooms. Attached to our workstations, to our job titles, to each of us - a number that feels constantly in question. How much are we worth? What is the most we can be expected to do, for the least amount of money and benefits. How much can we take before we would rather go unemployed than face another work day.

The truth is we'll continue to take it, and the powers that be know it. There's nowhere to go and too much uncertainty in the job market to take the risk. We'll take the patronizing "justify your job" email requests, the decreased benefits, the critical eye of our senior management, and the short-tempered treatment from students and parents who are forced to wait in longer lines, at counters with fewer people. We have to take it. We can't grab a couple of beers and escape out of an emergency exit like the now famous flight attendant, Steven Slater. And we don't really want to. We want to like what we do - and the people we do it for. We want to feel connected to our jobs, to our customers, to our coworkers.

Tango as antidote . .

Well, only sort of. Tango can't fix the work situation. But it can, at least for a little time, change the way I face it - how I react to it. Where it would be easier to withdraw than connect - I catch myself. I try a little harder to stay open. To be present. To connect rather than retreat. There's no instant gratification like there is so often in tango. But three nights of tango can give me enough to see me through another week.

A Chance to Help

This year, our tango community lost one of its most cherished founding members and my family lost a wonderful mother (and aunt) to Pancreatic Cancer. If you're in the Austin area and are able to participate in PC Action Network's 2nd annual walk/run in September, please join me and follow this link to sign up:

NOTE: dogs are welcome ($5 each) and if you're not available for the run/walk, you can support the cause by making donations at the same link. They're looking for volunteers for the event as well.

What is Tango Bliss?

Picture courtesy of Morguefile

There's a debate going on (frequently) over at Dance Forums about what tango bliss/trance is, and how we can create the conditions for it to happen. I think Sharna Fabiano puts it far better than I have (or can):

"I felt I was truly in the present moment. We tango dancers strive for this above all else, a zen-like state in which you feel as though the tango is animating your body, that you are effortlessly there with no past and no future. When you are only in the now, you are as purely yourself as you can be." (Thank you Joy-in-Motion for sharing such a wonderful resource!)

It doesn't get much better than that. Now how to get there, well... the debate rages on the forum...

Around the Tango Web

I wanted to give some love to a few fabulous tango blogs I've recently uncovered thanks to other well-informed tango bloggers out there. Give them a read when you get the chance, there's beautifully written content out there.

Gonzalo David Orihuela -
La Milonga Del 126 (Honolulu/Buenos Aires):
TangoBora's All About Tango:
Beating Tolstoy, mostly a blog about proactivity, with some tango thrown in - wonderful stuff:
Christina and Ladybug of TangoDurians:

There are probably a few more, but I've lost track of which blog I added to the blogroll when, so those are the most recent ones.


Need more money, honey.

Ever decreasing funds and limited time (hello, back-to-school studying) have me re-evaluating how and where I spend what little discretionary income I have on tango. Prices are going up for everything - food at restaurant milongas, gas, and the entrance fee has gone up at one of the milongas. I understand the cost of things (floor fees, utilities etc) all go up and organizers/teachers can't absorb that cost.

Unfortunately, I can't absorb that cost either. :(

So now I'll be dancing less which doesn't bother me as much as I thought it would. I've been having some absolutely wonderful dances and I'm constantly enchanted by the warm, wonderful community I'm lucky to be a part of. What I'm lacking in quantity, I'm more than making up for in quality, I think. But still . . . it requires a bit of planning and prioritizing to figure out my dance schedule.

Calculating the Tango Budget

First and foremost I want to support our tango musicians we're so lucky to have. Between Glover Gill and Tosca String Quartet, and Austin Piazzolla Quintet - we have wonderful options for live tango music here in Central Texas. Not many communities have access to a regular schedule of live music. Supporting them is a bit of a win-win situation, as it turns out.

- Tuesdays and frequently on Thursdays, Glover Gill plays solo at Texas French Bread (Tues) and Esquina Tango (Thur) without an entrance cover charge (but of course, please tip the musician(s) if you come.)

- On one Saturday a month, Glover and Tosca play together at Esquina for $10 - a bargain for live music. (On Monday nights. Glover plays at the Continental Club in Houston, too!)

- There's a free milonga once a month at Tazza Fresca coffee house, and another at University of Texas (except during the summer) - so that's two more options.

Then there's two milongas, one at Esquina (w/dj) and one at Uptown (also w/dj and only if you arrive between 9-9:30pm, otherwise it's $10) that are a very reasonable $5.

That's still a pretty full schedule if I can switch to going to milongas during the week and/or get myself together by 9pm. Next, figuring out workshops and lessons. *sigh* If only I could give up sleeping and eating, I could get a second job (because I certainly can't give up my tango time).